Jazz up the cans of black beans in your cupboard with this Mexican Black Beans recipe. It’s a low-fuss skillet recipe that’s quick and easy, and made with warm and smoky Mexican-inspired flavors. Serve them with tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, fajitas, and more!
If you’re bored of black beans or not sure what to do with the cans that are sitting in the back of your cupboard, try this Mexican Black Beans recipe! It transforms these hearty beans into a restaurant-quality, Mexican-inspired side dish. All it takes are simple spices and pantry-staple ingredients.
Making this black bean side dish with canned beans rather than dried ones cuts the cooking time from over 1 hour to just 20 minutes. Additionally, canned beans are a budget-friendly plant-based protein option and an affordable way to feed a crowd a hearty, fiber-rich food.
The best part of this recipe, however, is how easy it is. The most challenging part is deciding how to serve them! Tacos? Beef carnitas? Burrito bowls? There are endless dishes to choose from!
ℹ️ Are black beans healthy?
Black beans (or frijoles negros in Spanish) are a fantastic source of plant-based protein, with 1 cup containing over 15 grams. They’re also loaded with fiber (15 grams per 1 cup), as well as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
🛒 Ingredients needed
- Canned black beans – We’re using canned beans instead of dried ones. Canned beans are already cooked, so all you have to do is drain them in a colander and rinse them well before you start cooking.
- Olive oil – For fat and flavor.
- Onion – Shallots also work in a pinch.
- Cumin – This adds a necessary warmth to each bite.
- Fresh lime juice – Try to use freshly squeezed lime juice rather than the stuff from a bottle.
- Water or broth – Cooking the beans in water or broth creates a saucy consistency and helps the spices and aromatics stick better. You can enhance the savory qualities of this dish by cooking the beans in homemade bone broth instead of water.
- Salt and pepper
- Queso fresco or cotija cheese – Take the finished black beans up a notch by sprinkling either of these Mexican cheeses on top. Use queso fresco if you’re a fan of feta or ricotta cheese, or use cotija if you’re a bigger fan of parmesan cheese.
- Cilantro – An optional but recommended garnish.
📋 How to make Mexican black beans
First, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until softened. Next, add the garlic and cumin and cook for another 30 seconds.
Now you can pour the rinsed black beans and water (or broth) into the skillet. Leave everything to cook, stirring often, until the mixture is warmed through.
Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sprinkle the chopped cilantro and cheese crumbles on top, then enjoy!
Can you make these with dried black beans?
Yes, you can use dried beans instead of canned beans. They must be soaked in water and cooked at a low simmer until tender before using them. This can take 1½ to 2 hours.
Using dried beans will be much easier if you have a pressure cooker or slow cooker. Head to my Instant Pot Black Beans recipe for step-by-step instructions or check out the slow cooker version.
- Switch up the beans – If you don’t have canned black beans, use canned pinto beans, kidney beans, red beans, or white beans instead.
- Add corn – Try swapping one of the black bean cans with a can of Mexican-style, Southwest, or regular corn kernels. Frozen corn kernels also work well.
- Add chorizo – Cook about ½ cup of ground chorizo sausage in the skillet until browned, then add the onion and follow the recipe as written.
- Turn up the heat – To make spicy Mexican black beans, add a diced jalapeno to the skillet with the chopped onions. You can also add a pinch of cayenne pepper, chile powder, or crushed red pepper.
Store the leftover Mexican black beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
You can also freeze them for up to 6 months without sacrificing taste or texture. I like freezing black beans in small portion containers for the ease of thawing as much as I need for other recipes.
🍽 Serving suggestions
Pair these beans with all of your favorite Mexican-inspired recipes, like:
- Mexican-inspired brunch – Serve the ultimate Mexican-themed spread complete with breakfast tostadas, migas, cooked black beans, corn queso dip, guacamole, various salsas, and a pitcher of mango michelada!
- Healthy lunches – Boost the fiber in a Mexican Street Corn Salad, Chipotle Chicken Salad, or Southwest Chicken Salad by adding a scoop of beans.
- Taco Tuesday – Add black beans to the topping options on Taco Tuesday. They’re perfect with Sweet Potato Tacos, Pork Carnitas Street Tacos, Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps, and more.
- Keep it simple – Rice and beans is a simple and protein-packed side dish. Simply stir the cooked beans into a batch of rice, then enjoy!
More bean recipes
🌮 More Mexican-style favorites
- Mexican Street Corn Tacos
- Creamy Mexican Street Corn Soup
- Instant Pot Mexican Rice
- Birria de Borrego (Mexican Lamb Stew)
- Albondigas (Mexican Meatballs)
Did you make these black beans?
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Mexican Black Beans Recipe
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion (diced)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 15-ounce cans black beans ((drained and rinsed) (about 3 cups))
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice
- Salt and Pepper (to taste)
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro (to garnish (optional))
- 1/4-1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco (or cotija cheese (optional))
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the onion and cook for 5-6 minutes, until softened.
- Add the garlic and cumin and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Add the beans and water or broth and cook
- Add the black beans and broth or water to the skillet and cook for 5-6 minutes, until warmed through.
- Add lime juice and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- If desired, top with cilantro and queso fresco.